As the countdown for Christmas begins, Derry City Council is appealing to members of the public who may be thinking of buying a puppy as a gift this year to put a considerable amount of thought into the purchase.
Principal Environmental Officer Enda Cummins making the appeal said: “We know that the gift of a puppy will make a very special present for someone this Christmas however we would urge people to think long about the responsibility keeping an animal involves.
“The average life span of a dog is 15 years, so parents need to ensure that their children understand that owning a dog is a very long-term commitment.
“Children must be made aware that dogs demand a lot of time and are expensive to keep. Daily responsibilities include: exercising, feeding, grooming, training and cleaning up after your dog. Some breeds will need more stimulation and exercise than others or they may become destructive. Dogs also need company like humans and can get bored and lonely. Think about which dog will suit your family and lifestyle.”
Enda advised that licensing is also an important issue that parents must consider when taking responsibility for a dog.
“All dogs, with the exception of guide dogs, must have a valid licence. Before you get a dog or a puppy you MUST get a licence for it, it is a legal requirement.
“A puppy that stays with its mother must have a licence by the age of six months. Licensing is considered to be an integral part of responsible dog ownership and offers some proof of ownership.
“It should be noted that it is no longer possible to licence a dog without including a valid microchip number for your dog. A microchip contains a unique identification number that is registered to the animal and the owner’s details are placed on a national data base.
“This simple, safe modern identification method is permanent and can`t be removed, so even if your dog loses its collar or someone steals your dog we can still trace it by its microchip. It is therefore important that you change the owner details on a puppy or dog that has already been microchipped,” he explained.
The standard dog licence fee is £12.50 but is free to anyone over 65 years of age (for one dog and £5.00 for any additional dog).
Licence fees are also discounted to £5.00 if the dog is neutered or sterilized or if the dog owner is in receipt of an income-related benefit (income support or housing benefit).
A dog licence can be purchased at Derry City Council Offices, 98 Strand Road, BT48 7NN, Tel 028 71365151 or you can apply online at http://www.derrypayments.com/Online-Payments/Dog-Licence-Application.aspx. Alternatively an application form can be posted out on request or downloaded from www.derrycity.gov.uk/dogs.
“Licensing and micro-chipping would make a fantastic gift for your pet this Christmas as it helps our dog wardens reunite lost dogs with their owners,” he added.
Mr Cummins added that Council is keen to get the responsible dog ownership message out to the public in the run up to Christmas.
“Barking dogs are the number one noise complaint that Council receives every year. We would ask that owners never let their dog become a nuisance to their neighbour, never let it stray and always clean up after it. To be a responsible dog owner you should: Always clean up after your dog, Don’t let your dog stray,Don’t let your dogs barking become a nuisance and Always licence your dog,” he said.
For more information on responsible dog ownership; including advice on how to train your dog not to nuisance bark please visit http://www.derrycity.gov.uk/dogs